Julie's story

Life is pretty tough for Julie right now.

She is out of work, she doesn’t have enough money to get by, and she and is dealing with health problems. She and her husband have a three-year-old daughter to take care of and they are having a hard time making ends meet. They are currently living with Julie’s cousin in order to save money.

The cousin, Larry, is dealing with his own health problems that make it impossible for him to work. He receives Social Security disability payments, along with receiving Social Security payments that his late mother set up for him before she passed away. He also has a difficult time getting by, but living with Julie and her family helps him a great deal.

Larry’s health problems are very serious, and he was happy with the care he was receiving from his longtime doctor. He receives Medicaid, which allows him to be able to afford to see his doctor.

One problem with Medicaid, though, is that sometimes health care centers and medical offices won’t accept insurance from some of the plans offered by Medicaid. A few months ago, Larry’s doctor stopped accepting the health insurance plan he has through Medicaid, so he had to switch doctors.

Larry would have preferred to switch health insurance plans, but Medicaid recipients in Ohio are only allowed to switch providers during one set open enrollment month each year. This is very frustrating to Larry, and he’s understandably upset about leaving the doctor that knew him and his medical history well.

Julie’s family also has several problems to deal with, but the main one right now is not having enough money to get by. Even with sharing household expenses with Larry and with receiving cash assistance and food assistance, they barely have enough to pay the bills.

“A lot of the time, we only have one meal so that my daughter can have three meals a day,” Julie said. She is thankful to have a home and to be able to pay the rent and the other bills, but she wishes the government could increase the assistance levels, even slightly to help families in need. It would be especially helpful, she added, if the assistance programs could pay for diapers and other expensive items for young children.

Public assistance benefits do provide support, but not enough to allow people meet their basic needs. The average cash assistance payment per month in Ohio is $375 and the average food assistance benefit is $292 per assistance group per month. Combined, these benefits do not even get a family of three up to 50% of the Federal Poverty Level. Benefit levels need to be increased in Ohio to help families meet their basic needs.

Julie would prefer it if her family could support itself on its own and she hopes to be working again soon. Larry wishes that his health problems didn’t prevent him from working and supporting himself. They are both at a time in their lives where they need government assistance just to meet their basic needs, and right now the assistance often falls short. We need to do more to help them.